AiLECS seeks to be a leading translational AI research hub, whose outputs contribute to safeguarding communities from serious criminal threats.
We envision AiLECS as a crucial clearing house for applied research that facilitates the use of AI techniques in law enforcement and broader community safety. Our founding partners are the Australian Federal Police and Monash University. We conceive the lab and its operations as a model and platform for AI research related to law enforcement on an international scale. Such a global orientation is necessary given the cross-jurisdictional nature of the problem domain and complexity of the research issues.
Law-enforcement agencies around the world have investigated, and to varying degrees implemented, AI related technologies. This includes among other areas of application: facial recognition, optimised resource allocation, crime prediction, traffic policing, and text/social media analyses. Much of this has been in conjunction with commercial vendors, while direct collaborations between law enforcement and universities has been somewhat ad-hoc. We contend that tighter collaboration between law enforcement and universities through research leads to a deeper cross-pollination of expertise. Not only does this assist agencies to adapt to technological change, but promotes broad understanding in the research and higher education sector, of the issues faced by police. This in turn strengthens the community partnership on which law enforcement is best-based. Moreover, universities are typically research oriented and have highly developed infrastructure around the management of data, research student training and supervision, as well as appropriate ethical oversight.
Academic researchers outside of law enforcement agencies do not typically have legal access to data held by police. The use of evidence seized as part of real-world law-enforcement investigations – for example, as training data for machine learning algorithms – must be carefully considered from legal, ethical and technical perspectives. The transnational nature of technology-facilitated crime poses challenges for the interchange of potentially sensitive material between countries. This is a challenge borne not just of legal export restrictions, but also of security and logistical data management concerns. Infrastructure initiatives such as AiLECS are necessary in order to scale up research in this area, particularly since international collaboration will be vital to further address the large scale technical chalenges inherent in combating criminal network activity.